Below is the original post on my 1st blog site, which was published in Nov 2010. I’m re-posting it here, with a few edits in order to improve the flow and readability of it. One big difference is that I replaced “biomom” and “BM” to either “mom” or “the kids’ mom”.
It had a lot of views and purportedly helped some stepmoms. How many? I don’t know, but even helping one makes it worth publishing again. All of the tips are the same, so none of it’s essence has been changed.
These strategies helped me immensely. I put it in outline format in order to make it easier and quicker to read. It is in response to the plethora of outcry I hear from StepMoms about a BM who is tough to deal with.
1) Distinguish what you can and can’t control. This is where your power is. You can’t control what other people say or do. You can’t even predict it. But, in every situation, YOU have a choice in how you react. To determine how to proceed, ask yourself the following questions:
- Can I control any part of this?
- What is my part? (i.e. How am I contributing to this?)
- What other options do I have, that are in my control?
- What can I do differently?
- Will my partner help me with this? (This is your other source of power that can make a big difference.)
2) Change the story. It takes time and effort to alter our emotional reaction, but it’s worth it! Once we change how we think about something, our behavior towards it changes. The people around us will likely change as they will react differently.
Monitor your thoughts. Replace negative thoughts with neutral thoughts. Every time you get upset while thinking of something the kids’ mom said or did, stop and tell yourself the following:
- She can’t help how she feels and may not be conscious of this obsessive behavior.
- I feel sorry for her that she cannot get past the divorce/separation and move on.
- I’m glad I’m not that insecure.
- How sad that she is not at inner peace and chooses to be spiteful! I choose to not react in kind. I will not bring myself down to that level of behavior.
- I don’t want to give her power over me. I can get past this regardless of what she does.
3) Release and let go. Your feelings are valid. You may want to hold onto your anger or pain because she truly has mal-intentions. However, YOUR INNER PEACE should be your TOP PRIORITY! Anger or resentment stands in your way of inner peace and your ability to be the best YOU, because you can’t give your all.
Vent if you need to. Preferably, to somebody who understands but who won’t fuel your anger.
Develop strategies to relax, such as:
- Hot bath
- Yoga, kick boxing, running, or other physical fitness
- Any hobby or pastime – something that reminds you of who you are so you won’t lose a sense of yourself while wearing the different hats (Mom, StepMom, Wife/SO, career woman, etc)
4) Become unemotional when defending accusations and lies from the kids’ mom. Defend yourself calmly, whether to your step kids or your spouse.
No long explanation is required. You shouldn’t have to feel the “need to defend” yourself, especially to the step kids. They don’t need to know adult business. Leave it to your partner to defend you more if necessary. If your husband is concerned about what was said or believes any portion of it, you’re probably experiencing other problems in your relationship.
The following are a few examples of replies that are short, to the point, and can easily exclude emotion (depending on your tone of voice and delivery).
- “I didn’t say that. That is inaccurate.”
- “She is obviously confused or she misunderstood.”
- Even if you know her intentions are malicious and fallacious, give her the benefit of the doubt, especially to the children.
- You may feel that this is a lie, but it’s probably accurate. So, don’t feel guilty as it will have neutral to positive repercussions.
- This will work in your favor, especially if your husband has a similar conversation with the kids and defends you.
- Get used to others, including the kids, forming their own opinions. You can’t control it; But, a consistent, calm, and compassionate attitude will serve you exponentially in the long run.
The less emotions you show about the mom, the bigger the reward. Eventually the kids will figure out the truth. That may be a sad day for their mom. They will probably forgive her, though, because she is their mom. The biological bond is that strong. In the meantime, you keep your sanity, are more productive, and can give 110% again when wearing the different hats.